Following a dinner Wednesday night with members of the Washington Wizards organization, Anthony Bennett made his way back to a downtown hotel. After taking a few steps up the building stairs, the forward out of UNLV heard someone call his name.
A shocked Bennett glanced over to see a fan clutching about five photos for him to sign, the last of which was a photoshopped image of Bennett and Georgetown swingman Otto Porter Jr. in front of the U.S. Capitol building.
“It was real cool; I had to take one,” a smiling Bennett recalled Thursday following his interview with the Wizards at Verizon Center. “I signed one and said. ‘Yo, let me get the other one.’ ”
Indeed, fans are already buzzing about the prospect of either Bennett or Porter being selected third overall by the Wizards in the NBA draft on June 27. While Porter will work out with the Wizards on Friday, Bennett made his case during the last two days in Washington, meeting with the Wizards for interviews and measurements.
Because of surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder, the 6-foot-8 forward was unable to work out in front of the team. Since his May operation, Bennett, who is no longer in a cast, has been rehabbing in New York with an eye on returning to full strength by the first week of August.
“I met with Dr. [David] Altchek yesterday and he said I can do light shooting, can dribble, but no contact or dunking or anything crazy like that,” Bennett said. “He said everything is going fine.”
With teams unable to see his skills in person, Bennett said he hopes his highlights and interviews will do justice for his versatility as a forward who can knock down the outside shot, run the floor and bang inside.
“[Washington] is a young team, run and gun. They like to get up and down the court, and that’s what I like to do, too,” the 19-year-old Canadian said. “I feel like most four-men can go out and shoot or they can go inside, so I’ll just fit right in. I just need to get stronger.”
Bennett said he has spoken a few times with Wizards guard Bradley Beal, who expressed his love for the city and the team’s potential.
In his lone season at UNLV, Bennett averaged 16.1 points and 8.1 rebounds, drawing comparisons to Elton Brand and Larry Johnson for his ability to stretch defenses. High school basketball fans in the Washington area might remember Bennett from the 2012 ESPN National High School Invitational at Georgetown Prep, where he and his Findlay Prep teammates rallied from 18 points down to beat Montverde, 86-83, in overtime for the title.
On Thursday, Bennett said his wingspan measured in around 7 feet 1 and his standing reach was 8-9, numbers that continue to intrigue all of the teams with top five picks. After meeting with Phoenix last week, Bennett is expected to visit with Orlando this weekend, followed by Cleveland and Charlotte in the coming weeks. Whether he meets with any teams outside of the top five is up to his agent, Bennett said.